Here continues the adventure of our downsizing move, in which I find a rental listing while I am out of town, my husband looks it over, and three days later it’s ours. We thought the new house has 63% of the square footage of our current house, but it turns out it’s actually 53%! The listing was updated, and it says 728 square feet rather than 881. The discrepancy most likely has to do with the addition of the laundry room to the detached garage, or perhaps a transdimensional portal.
Monday: We meet our landlords to sign the papers. They are busy, too, and we can’t meet until 8:30 PM. As predicted last week, the construction is not 100% complete, and we agree that they will finish the last tiny touchup tasks over the next few days. That’s fine, because we’ll only be moving a few carloads before the weekend, while continuing to sleep at what is now officially The Old House. They offer to lend us a van!
Surreal Hollywood moment when the landlord mentions my book, Iceland by Bus and Backpack. It’s self-published and copies sold are still in the three digit range, but I feel FAMOUS for about 15 seconds. In the year the house was built, such a conversation would indeed have indicated something special; now it just means Google.
We unload the folding office bookcase and three sets of plastic storage shelves in the garage, which still has all the construction materials it had last week. I have brought over some hand soap and TP for the bathroom. See that the landlords have left a bird’s nest undisturbed in the porch rafters, which touches my heart. They also put a welcome mat at the back door.
(Finished Week 9 of my online class and took the final, finishing with 40 minutes to spare. Also tracked down a notary public. Turned in my last library books, a bittersweet moment. A busy day overall!)
Tuesday: I wake up to a large empty space in my husband’s office. Only 7:30 AM and already he has moved a carload on his way to work. I set to work taping together my portion of the new boxes, realizing partway through that I am doing this before breakfast. Drop my phone, shatter the screen, swear a lot, and submit a claim against my phone insurance, all in 20 minutes. Pack my quota of 11 boxes, the capacity of our car, and leave on the bus for an advance screening of a major new movie, because my life is so Hollywood. (This means standing in line for an hour and surrendering all your electronics at the door, which in my case is a lot like asking Red Sonja or Xena, Warrior Princess to divest themselves of weaponry, except the glass slivers coming out of the plastic wrap around my phone may be more dangerous right now. I sometimes sheath my phone in my boot as well). Hubby fills car with my boxes and picks me up at the bus stop. We drop off our first rent check and unpack. The empty boxes go back in the car for tomorrow.
Work has clearly been done on the house since yesterday; a few cabinet doors and drawer fronts are missing in the kitchen and linen closet. They were not painted to the landlord’s standards and he is having them redone. This makes unpacking a bit of a challenge, though; I had planned to do the kitchen first, since kitchens consist almost entirely of built-in storage. I mentally rejigger what gets moved on which day. Half the garage is still a work in progress as well; the construction debris has been cleared, but there are still some large pieces of furniture (hutches?) waiting to be hauled away.
So far we’ve moved half my clothes, my husband’s bookcase of textbooks, some kitchen appliances and canning jars, the garage shelves, and a lot of random garage items, most of which can’t be put away yet. The planning philosophy of moving Stuff We are Keeping But Won’t Use for at Least a Week is creating some odd priorities and juxtapositions. Wine glasses and the ironing board, cocktail dresses and sprinkler heads, croquet mallets and hiking boots and my chainmail bikini top.
I spent 59 minutes packing my 11 boxes. We were at the house for 46 minutes, unloading, unpacking, and handling the rent check. Had a late dinner at a Lebanese restaurant we once tried that is, unbelievably, only 6 minutes away now.
Wednesday: New phone arrives at 9 AM! Our pets are a little anxious, since we haven’t been home in the evenings, and I give them some extra cuddle time on the couch while messing with my phone transfer. Noelie rarely sits on my shoulder, but in the past couple of weeks she has wanted to ride around with me. These are moments of stillness in the maelstrom.
I spend some extra time with a pencil and a blank sheet of paper, doing a brain dump and drawing diagrams of where our remaining furniture will go in the new rooms. Drinking a cup of tea and taking some deep breaths, I make some strategic decisions that leave me feeling much calmer.
Choose what I’m going to wear the rest of the week and pack the rest of the clothes in my closet. Wash bedding. Spend the rest of my afternoon dealing with the logistics of the move: reserving a moving van FOR SATURDAY, working out which extra equipment to rent, finding someone to haul away our broken old couch, looking for a dealer who might buy our washer and dryer. Extremely impressed with the U-Haul website.
Cook a pot of soup while hubby loads the car. Eat dinner, drive over, sit in nighttime construction traffic. Get to the new house and discover that, TODAY, the landlord has had the entire kitchen floor ripped out, installed new subflooring, and put down new Pergo. All due to a slight squeak at the threshold to the living room. This guy is a FINISHER par excellence. Respect. The ceiling vents have been replaced, a wall plate is put in, and the nicest blinds I’ve ever had have been installed in all the rooms. We are joking about dragging out the move to see how many other upgrades he will do! We unload the car, including one bag of frozen food for the freezer. Stop at our new grocery store and pick up dog food and dog cookies. Come home and set out more unboxable items for tomorrow morning’s load.
My time today: 61 minutes packing, loading, unloading, and unpacking. 65 minutes travel time, including grocery store. Considerably longer setting up my new phone.
Thursday: New phone is working in every way except being an actual telephone. Spend a lot of time and customer service calls trying to figure out why, which turns out to be a matter of finding the SIM card. Ohhh… The past three days, I have spent nearly as much time dealing with my smartphone as with my house move, which says a lot about my life.
Spend a total of 2 hours 19 minutes on packing and moving. Nothing has been done at the new house today, meaning I still can’t unpack in the kitchen or the linen closet, and we still can’t set up the garage shelving. Vexed. Interesting how my positive feelings about the surprise new flooring only lasted one day. I am an ingrate. Pick a bag of mandarins in the dark for hubby’s coworkers. Go home and eat leftovers from all the soup I made this week.
Almost everything that has been packed and moved has come from inside closets, cupboards, cabinets, and the garage. The bedroom looks untouched. Hubby’s office is obviously the main staging area. Until tonight, nothing at all had been packed from the living room. Now I have a cardboard monument stacked in the middle of the room, waiting for the rest of the books and incidentals. The illusion we have been able to maintain of ordinary daily life is now vaporizing. Tomorrow I am going to have to bust some serious butt getting ready for the big move, now under 36 hours away.
Friday: Sleep in a bit. Spend an hour on the phone scheduling Internet hookup, changing addresses with various service providers, finding out just how hard it is to get a broken old couch hauled away. We decide to cut it up and put it in the trash.
As I was packing yesterday, I boxed up all our anti-inflammatories, and realized it had been months since I had last taken one. I’m definitely a bit sore and tired from climbing up and down to reach high shelves, carrying boxes of books and the fireproof safe, and spending all week doing unaccustomed deep knee bends. But it’s getting done. This is one area where physical fitness pays a large dividend.
Spent 70 minutes on packing. Mutually decided we would skip the trip to the house tonight and go out for Mexican food. Hubby got out the drill and took apart his work benches. He also boxed up the TV screen. I saw the way he had carefully taped all the screws from his desk to one side with a lattice of masking tape, and my heart melted. Gotta have a Tool Man!
The kitchen is almost completely packed. All the books are done. The closets are all ¾ done. Everything on the walls is still there. We’re planning to do the cleanup on Sunday, which means packing all the cleaning tools and supplies that day. It will probably also mean some last-minute stuff we won’t feel like dealing with when we have the van, which has a 10-hour time limit.
Saturday: Hubby brings home breakfast at 7 and we work for an hour before picking up the moving van. Two trips with the van. Returned it at 7 PM with 20 minutes to spare. 8 hours 48 minutes packing and moving, 3 hours 47 minutes travel time. Pack another carload afterward. 90% finished with each room = a LOT of small, random items remaining. Stop at hardware store. Find a veg-friendly sushi joint a couple minutes away and eat a late dinner. Go home (HOME!) and set up bed. Actually, this summary is missing all the drama and funny parts. Come back tomorrow.
Sunday: Another heinously early start. Woke up to flock of wild parrots flying over our house! Hurrying to pack up and clean up, while returning to meet internet installer at 3 PM. They call twice to try to move up the appointment, but we can’t leave because we’re at the old house waiting for a junk removal appointment that falls through and has to be rescheduled anyway. Get that done and make a second trip. I’ll be going back tomorrow to meet the junk hauler, the fridge recycler, and an important mail delivery that we don’t want getting stuck in Forwarding Limbo.
At this point, the bedroom and bathroom are completely set up and unpacked. The pets have a spot for their sleeping crates. The fridge and freezer are set up, and we have functional utensil drawers. We have internet and we have everything we need to do laundry. I don’t really want to talk about the garage, laundry room, or kitchen right now. We first learned of the existence of this house on November 17, precisely 20 days ago, and now we’re already sleeping here.
Tune in next week for the latest installment of our adventures in downsizing. Oh, and tomorrow, for the hilarity known as MOVING DAY.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.